Pot Roast with Oranges and Dates

October 5, 2009

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I was channeling a little bit of Julie and Julia the other day, and Whole Foods had a sale on boneless chuck, so I bought one and half pounds of beef and made myself a mini pot roast for the week. I am generally not a huge beef eater (although I seem to be eating more of it recently, stay tuned for the beef eaters quarterly news letter featuring beef bourguignon…) Beef has always felt like a luxury to me since I like to get good quality meat that is grass fed and humanely raised—the price is generally out of range for my weekly food budget. The scarcity of it in my diet, however, does make me appreciate it all the more when I have the occasion to cook it. A tasty pot roast or stew will go a long way in my household of one and means lunch for an entire week.

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This particular roast is one of my favourite pot roast recipes, discovered a couple years ago when looking for a recipe for a Seder supper. I’ve only added garlic and substituted canned diced tomatoes for tomato paste in an otherwise perfect recipe from epicurious.com. What I love about the recipe is the tangy tomato sauce that cooks down with the dates into an unctuous sweet-savoury pudding. The recipe is nice served with rice and some cooked veg like ratatouille (a zucchini, a small eggplant, a couple of tomatoes, some fresh rosemary-thyme-oregano, garlic, and sliced onions, cooked just till the vegetables start to fall apart.) I also like the meat sliced cold in a sandwich, with a little bit of mayonnaise and the thick tomato sauce used in place of a condiment.

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Pot Roast with Oranges and Dates

1 ½- 2 lbs boneless beef chuck roast,
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, grated
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cups chicken broth or white wine
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup diced tomatoes
1 cup pitted dates
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

Preheat oven to 350°F. Sprinkle roast on each side with salt, pepper, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Heat 1 tablespoons oil in heavy wide ovenproof pot or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add roast. Cook until brown, about 8 minutes per side; transfer to plate. Add 1 tablespoon oil and onions and garlic to pot. Sauté until dark brown, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Mix in vinegar and allspice; boil until reduced to glaze, scraping up browned bits. Add broth, orange juice, and tomato sauce; bring to boil. Return roast and accumulated juices to pot. Scatter dates around roast; sprinkle with parsley.
Cover pot; place in oven. Braise roast 1 hour. Turn roast over, cover, and braise until tender, about 1 hour. Tilt pot; spoon off fat from top of sauce. Cool uncovered 1 hour or just let rest in pan for 15 minutes before slicing and serving with sauce.

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